Indian Cricket: Who Would Be Or Ought To Be The Test Captain?


The sudden stepping down, somewhat inevitable, of Virat Kohli from test captaincy has started a raging speculation in India about who would be or ought to be the new Test captain. Earlier in the year 2021 we had suggested a split-captaincy regime, particularly after the stand-in Test captain Ajinkya Rahane led India to an incredible Series victory over Australia in Australia overcoming the 36-all out syndrome and the departure of Virat for home. Rahane had been the test vice-captain for quite some time and therefore, there should’ve been no hassles to make him the regular captain, relieving Kohli the burden of captaining all three formats. In hindsight, we can say that had that decision been taken Kohli would’ve continued to be the white-ball captain thus the confrontations and ego-plays between BCCI and Kohli could’ve been avoided. However, that was not done, and during the last one year Rahane has been in very poor form and perhaps he had played the last innings of his test career three days back in Cape Town. So, Rahane is out of any contention for test captaincy. For similar reasons, Cheteshwar Pujara cannot be considered either.

 

KL Rahul has been an ideal test player, but thanks to reasons unknown he was mostly left out of the test playing eleven except for the latest South Africa series. In this series he captained the second test in Johannesburg without much to be noticed about his leadership and that is the only experience of test captaincy for him. Although he has been captaining an IPL franchise, this cannot be taken as a justification to appoint him as a national test captain. Instead, he should always be in the test playing eleven as a no.3 batsman rather than trying out all means to play him as an opener. He is rock solid, dependable and a fluent batsman at no.3 positiion which is applicable to all three formats.

 

Cricketing legend Sunil Gavaskar has strongly favored batsman-wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant for the post while talking to a private news channel. But we feel that at 24, Pant is too young and too inexperienced to take charge of a very important position. Again, captaining an IPL franchise is not justification enough for the appointment. He is also a headstrong and an impulsive cricketer often going for very adventurous shots, be it tests or the shorter formats, and making hay only on his day. Further, in the just-concluded Test Series against South Africa his scores had been indifferent but for a 100 in the last innings of the tour, that too for a losing cause. Rishabh first has to cement his place in the test team with dependable and consistent batting. If youngsters are to be considered for a long-term plan then Shreyas Iyer would be a better option, because he is almost sure to make it to the test team after the consistent batting failures displayed by the older batsmen in South Arica. However, in all such cases of experimenting with youngsters they have first to be groomed under an experienced skipper like Virat had gained so much from MS Dhoni.

 

There is another option of considering a bowler for the job. In this scenario the name of Ravichandran Ashwin comes to the fore, because he is very experienced and successful, possibly the best India spinner at the moment, both at home and away, and very handy too as a batsman with two centuries. In fact, Virat Kohli came under a lot of criticism for leaving him out of the playing eleven in most matches in the last two years, particularly in Tests. It’s been a long time since a bowler was given the captain’s job in Indian cricket.

 

Therefore, at least for the time being, the natural choice seems to be Rohit Sharma who is already the regular white-ball captain and would definitely lead Team India into the ICC Men’s World Cup-2023 to be played at home during October-November. Apart from the emerging fact that Rohit too has become too big a superstar for the comfort of the BCCI and has often been in and out of the team due to injuries or ‘personal reasons’ which makes it rather tricky to give him the charge to lead in all three formats, he continues to be the ideal choice at least till 2023. During this time youngsters like Rishabh or Shreyas and also the regular vice-captain KL Rahul can be groomed for the job in the long term. Whatever be the decision it ought to serve Indian cricket in the best possible interests for its future in international cricket. All is not well in Team India at the moment, fans like it or not.  

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